Friday, May 13, 2016

The Chase Scene-Demystified

Was watching a film on the CRT the other day and witnessed a lively, spirited chase scene. It occurred to me that there are only a few parts to such a scene and that directors have been cutting and pasting the same clich├ęs together for, well, decades. Here's my collection. Warning: As a convenience, I am simply using Good Guy/Bad Guy nomenclature. I realize that women do get involved, as well as the entire LBGTIV?XPi community. No offense meant.

The Hotel Conundrum
Many chase scenes begin in hotels (or nightclubs). Often the Bad Guy overtakes private security in an elevator.

  • Unidentified Good-Guy security people are always foiled pre-chase and usually experience physical harm.
  • The scene must go through the kitchen.
  • The kitchen help are always Hispanic or Asian. They get really upset about said scene, with much shouting in many languages. None of them sustains serious injury. 
  • No member of the kitchen staff does anything to thwart the Bad Guy.
  • Both Good Guys and Bad Guys must knock over a rack of plates or cause somesuch other damage.
  • No chase scene ever ends in a kitchen.

Obtaining a Vehicle

  • In miraculous fashion, Bad Guys end up at the front of the hotel, even though they left through the kitchen.
  • There is always a hot car or massive SUV waiting.
  • Bad Guys commandeer these vehicles from civilians and valets with little or no resistance. Perhaps some fist-shaking ensues. We never learn if these poor folks get compensated for their loss.
  • Good Guys must wave impatiently to their drivers to pull around and pick them up. This gives Bad Guys the proverbial Head Start.

Face it, McQueen wrote the book.
On the Road

  • Overriding Rule: Both Good and Bad Guys in cars never hit anything important with gunfire in a car chase.
  • If the group gets to a highway/freeway, the Good Guy always catches up to the Bad Guy. They drive abreast.
  • The cars begin to bash each other, side to side. Although it looks as if major damage is being done, all cars are still driveable.
  • If the chase is in Europe, Bad Guys feel free to cross the median. Oncoming traffic avoids collisions, as if by magic.
  • If the Bad Guys have a MiniCooper, they will eventually jump onto the sidewalk. They will annoy pedestrians, often causing groceries to fly all over the joint.
  • At some point, a bevy of local cops will join the fray. They are useless and simply crash into one another.
  • If the chase occurs anywhere in the Middle East, it must continue down a narrow alley ringed with merchants. One fruit stand will be mushed to smithereens, with melons and other comestibles airborne, followed by keffiyeh-clad, cursing locals.
  • If any movie is shot in San Francisco, there will be a car chase. And every car is shown lifting off at intersections. This is ironclad. There are no flat streets in this town.
  • Sometimes a bus or other jitney is involved. The drivers of these vehicles must be portly, balding, African-American gents. Such scenes are inserted to slow down the Good Guys. The public vehicle will incur some damage while the drivers stare bug-eyed and let out with a "Whoa!" or "Omigod!" But no one is hurt. 

On Foot

  • Bad Guys run faster and know shortcuts. Good Guys have no idea about a route because they are itinerant agents who don't know the lay of the land.
  • All Guys must brusquely manhandle civilians out of the way, rather than avoid contact.
  • An escalator will be involved, with multiple Guys going down the wrong way.
  • The woman, pram and infant will go unharmed.
  • Once again, if in the Middle East, see the above point re: fruit and alleys.
  • No civilians intervene, e. g., tripping bad guys, etc.
  • There will be an unmarked door. Bad Guys instinctively know this is a way to evade pursuers. They duck into it, and Good Guys pass the door, then realized they are lost and go back and use the door.
  • Every street crossed has plenty of traffic. All Guys must slide across a hood at some point. SFX: horns beeping and indecipherable epithets.
  • Bad Guys can easily scale any fence built by humans. Good Guys, not so hot.
  • If  Bad Guy plunges from a bridge into a river, the Good Guys do not follow suit. Instead, they look rueful and throw their hands into the air. And ... cut.

In General

  • Everyone involved is an expert driver, highly skilled in life-threatening evasive maneuvers.
  • If a Guy commandeers a motorcycle, it is a dirt bike originally driven by a wimp. These bikes can amazingly navigate steep stairs and other impediments, no prob.
  • The only hope for Good Guys is when the Bad Guys crash their cars and lose consciousness. Otherwise, Bad Guys get away.

You're welcome gang.

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